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Copyright Protection for Written, Artistic and Electronic Works

Protecting Written, Artistic and Electronic Works

Copyright protection is available to you as owners of a work which has been recorded in some permanent way involving an element of skill, effort or judgement regardless of whether or not it has any aesthetic merit. Protection is applicable to technical descriptions, promotional materials or non-commercial literature and art. A work may be protected in this way, but the idea it expresses is not.

Copyright protection entitles you to prevent others from copying, adapting or dealing in copies of your material, generally for 70 years from the author's death, whether the work was published or unpublished (with variations for electronic media). Database protection lasts for fifteen years from when the database was made public or fifteen years from the beginning of the year following creation. Authors of certain works also have "moral rights" over the use of their work and this must be borne in mind if you are dealing in copyright materials.

In the business context, copyright protection is available in particular for the following: written materials  used in your business, e.g. catalogues, forms, brochures, tables, compilations, computer programs and materials stored in computers, artistic works including graphics, artwork and works of artistic craftsmanship, expressions of dramatic and musical works, and electronic media including sound recordings, soundtracks, films and videos.

There is also special protection for any "database", i.e a collection of independent works arranged systematically and accessible electronically or otherwise individually, with one important exclusion: product designs or prototypes are not normally copyright protected but they may have design right protection.

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